Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the decade?

As we say goodbye to 2009, I'm seeing all kinds of all-decade lists popping up all over the place (Best movies? Best songs? Best TV themes?)

It got me thinking: Who were the best fantasy players of the 2000s? It'd be awfully hard to narrow it down to an all-decade team. For instance, Peyton Manning's probably the obvious choice at QB, but how do you deny Tom Brady's record-busting 2007 season? Or how do you narrow it down to 1 or 2 running backs - say, LaDainian Tomlinson and Priest Holmes - and leave out a Brian Westbrook or Adrian Peterson or Marshall Faulk?

Jay Clemons of actually figured out a better approach, ranking the top 10 fantasy seasons of the decade. Here's what they came up with in a nutshell:

1. Tom Brady, 2007
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, 2006
3. Peyton Manning, 2004
4. Randy Moss, 2007
5. Shaun Alexander, 2005
6. Daunte Culpepper, 2004
7. LaDainian Tomlinson, 2003
8. Marvin Harrison, 2002
9. Tony Gonzalez, 2004
10. Drew Brees, 2008

A few things jump out at me:

- How does Holmes not make the list? It's easy to forget that near the start of the decade he was every bit as dominating as Tomlinson in his prime and single-handedly won many leagues in the early 2000s. A tight end makes the list and Priest doesn't?

- Brady may have had the single most impressive fantasy season of the '00s, but as SI points out, the rest of his career belongs simply in the "good" category, from a fantasy standpoint.

- It's almost unfathomable that Culpepper, who can't even stay on the field for the Detroit Lions nowadays, was once the game's best fantasy QB. I owned him in 2004, his incredible 39-TD season, and loved every minute of it. I also drafted him the following year, the start of his long downward career spiral, and still haven't forgiven him.

Photo by The Associated Press

Monday, December 28, 2009

Finally, a championship

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have to brag a little bit:

I'm a fantasy football champion.

It's my first title in several years, and the first in four seasons playing in our Newsroom Fantasy League at the office. I'm the only member of our 10-team league to make the playoffs in all four years of its existence, but up until this year I hadn't won a playoff game. It's been a source of contention from time to time - "How come the guy who hasn't even won a title gets to write the fantasy blog?" My argument has been that playoff games (and a good part of fantasy football, really) are a crapshoot, and it's sustained competitiveness over the course of a long season that really proves one's fantasy worth.

But enough of that crap. I'm a champion.

It wasn't easy though. In each of the past three weeks I was losing my matchup entering the Monday Night Football game. Two Cardinals interceptions got me into the playoffs in the final week of the regular season. A Steve Smith TD against Washington gave me a victory in the semifinals. And Robbie Gould's kicking skills helped me overcome a 3-point deficit in the championship game.

Now, the Lembo Slayers can call themselves champions. Defending league champ John Lembo has officially been slayed. The fantasy blogger has a fantasy crown. All is right with the world.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 16

FIVE STARS (Out of five)

I know, I know. I told you to pick up Harrison for Week 5, after he had just run for 129 yards, and he went on to do nothing special for the next 8 weeks. Then I told you to get him for Week 14, after he had just caught 2 TD passes, and he went out and had a 9-yard game. Now I'm telling you to get him one more time after his 286-yard, 3-TD blockbuster of a game. Third time's a charm? I guess we'll see.


Here's another former Hot Pickup making a return appearance. I suggested Snelling back in Week 11, and he rewarded my thought with 2 TDs against the Giants. But a subsequent stinker against the Bucs (4 carries, 8 yards) dropped him off a lot of people's radars. Snelling's carries have quietly increased, however, the past three weeks (10, 10, 16), and with Michael Turner still hobbled, Snelling seems ripe for a big day against Buffalo.


Bush has actually been quite effective when he gets a decent amount of work against bad teams (14 carries for 119 yards vs. K.C. in Week 10; 18 carries for 133 yards, TD vs. Denver last week). I'm not sure how many carries he'll get this wek - but I do know the Browns are a bad team. Feeling lucky?

- WR JOSH MORGAN, 49ers: This just in - Alex Smith isn't as terrible as we thought. The QB was actually looking pretty good up until last week in Philly, and his improved play helped boost the value of Morgan, who has 2 TD catches in his past three weeks. And it gets better - Morgan faces the Lions this week, and the Rams in Week 17.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Week 15 recap

Some random fantasy thoughts while savoring my first playoff victory in a few years (yes!) ...

- Just when we thought Jerome Harrison had been overtaken by Chris Jennings in the pecking order of Browns running backs, Harrison goes and busts out one of the greatest rushing performances the game's ever seen - 34 carries, 286 yards, 3 TDs against Kansas City. The shame of it is the chances of anyone actually starting Harrison in Week 15 are slim to none (let me know if you did). Harrison becomes perhaps the most unlikely must-start we've ever seen this week against Oakland. You'll also want Cedric Benson (and maybe even Larry Johnson as a flex) in your lineup against a downtrodden Chiefs D.

- DeAngelo Williams' early-game ankle injury was a killer, especially because Jonathan Stewart was able to rack up 109 yards and a TD on the ground against a tough Vikings D. We may have seen the last of Williams for this year, which at least would clear the way for Stewart

- Thank you, Roy Williams for the 1 catch and 14 yards in a critical week. Miles Austin was targeted a whopping 10 times more than our boy Roy.

- Hopefully you weren't scared off by all the "Randy Moss is a quitter" talk and benefited from his 5 catches, 70 yards and a TD on Sunday. The next two weeks against Jacksonville and Houston are looking very appealing for Mr. Moss.

- Beanie Wells is coming into his own at just the right time. He had his best day as a pro (110 yards, TD), and I'm expecting an encore against St. Louis.

- No TDs for Chris Johnson - what's up with that??? It's gotten to the point that 159 total yards is just not enough from this guy.

- Vincent Jackson picked the perfect time to shine (108 yards, 2 TDs) - the first time he's scored since Week 9. He could do some more damage on Christmas night against a Titans secondary that was getting torched with regularity not that long ago.

- Steven Jackson continued playing hurt, leading the team in rushing (82 yards) and receiving (41 yards), but I fear it's going to catch up to him against a Cardinals D that's typically pretty good at bottling up the run. It doesn't help that the Rams have almost no passing game to speak of.

- It will be tempting to start Michael Turner against the Bills' porous defense, but how can you insert him in your lineup in good conscience after Sunday's 1-carry, 7-yard disaster against the Jets?

- The Raiders decided to hand the ball off to Michael Bush 18 times on Sunday against Denver, and he rewarded them with 133 yards and a TD. That's surprising, not because Bush doesn't have the talent (he does), but because he had gotten only 22 carries in the past 5 games combined. Bush could repeat that feat or better it against the Browns if he gets a similar workload.

- DeSean Jackson continued his torrid play (6 catches, 140 yards, TD) and should be a staple of fantasy lineups at this point.

- That's the Aaron Rodgers we know and love (26-for-48, 383 yards, 3 TDs). Now do it again this week against the Seahawks, buddy.

- Speaking of the Seahawks, John Carlson caught his second TD in as many games and could do it again this week vs. Green Bay, if you trust a guy whose QB is Matt Hasselbeck (1 TD, 4 INTs, 45.2 passer rating Sunday).

- And speaking of tight ends, Todd Heap caught two TDs, his first trips to the end zone since Week 2. He's still a part of the Ravens' passing attack, so don't forget about him in Week 16.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 15

- RB MATT FORTE at Baltimore: Even if you've somehow managed to limp into the playoffs with Forte as one of your two starting RBs, you know that outside of a handful of games against the league's worst teams, he's been nothing more than average. And he'll be just average against a Ravens D that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 9. If you have a better alternative, bench the Bear.

- RB LeSEAN McCOY vs. San Francisco: Instead of being the second coming of Brian Westbrook, Shady has been darn near worthless the past few weeks. Besides, FB Leonard Weaver has been the bigger playmaker and gets the carries at the goal line for the Eagles. Don't expect much from McCoy against the league's fifth-ranked run defense.

- WR PERCY HARVIN at Carolina: The rookie sat out last week with migranes, and the trend (thankfully) in the NFL this year has been to be cautious with these kinds of ailments. Harvin was limited in practice Friday, and while the odds seem to favor him playing, he could end up a late scratch. With the Vikings playing the Sunday night game, that could wreck your plans this playoff weekend. Are you willing to take that risk?


- Beanie Wells surprised everybody with 15 carries for 79 yards and a TD, maybe surpassing Tim Hightower on the depth chart in the process.

- Steve Breaston had another 1-catch game. Warned you.

- Santana Moss had 4 catches for 58 yardszzzzzzzzz.

Start 'Em: Week 15

- QB KURT WARNER vs. Detroit: You may be considering benching Warner after last week's stinkbomb in San Fran. Don't. As reminds us, Warner suffered through a six-turnover game in Week 8, and he followed it up with a stretch of 12 TDs vs. 1 turnover in the following 4 games. Plus, it's the Lions. Don't overthink this.

- RB KNOWSHON MORENO vs. Oakland: The rookie's had 19, 21 and 23 carries in the past three weeks. With that type of workload, Moreno should repeat the kind of success he had against the Raiders earlier this year (90 yards, TD).

- WR ROBERT MEACHEM vs. Dallas: Don't let last week's so-so game (4 catches, 57 yards) dissuade you from starting him this week. Meachem's become an important part of the Saints' offense, and I don't think the Cowboys' secondary can keep him out of the end zone.


- Jamaal Charles had his best game of the year against Buffalo: 20 carries, 143 yards, TD; 7 catches, 38 yards.

- Ryan Grant had his second-best game of the year against Chicago: 20 carries, 137 yards, 2 TDs.

- Kenny Britt had 2 catches for 75 yards and no TDs. Can't win 'em all.
Photo by The Associated Press

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fired for playing fantasy football

Lots of us play fantasy football with our co-workers. It's our only way of breaking up the monotony of life in a poorly-lit cubicle or dulling the sting of layoffs, paycuts, furloughs and other unpleasantries.

But did you know you could get fired for it?

That's what happened to these four guys at Fidelity Investments in Texas. Turns out an inter-office communication about Trent Edwards' suckiness tipped off management to a $20 office league. An investigation ensued, and four league commissioners got canned for violating a company policy that prohibited gambling.

Seems like a pretty harsh overreaction to something that goes on in thousands, if not millions, of workplaces around the country. Shame on you, Fidelity.

Full disclosure: How my fantasy teams did

Since I spend a lot of my time giving readers fantasy advice, I know a lot of you are wondering how MY teams are doing this year.

So here goes.

First of all, I'm in three leagues. And in two of them, I failed to make the playoffs this year. It's sad, I know. And frustrating. But those are the breaks in this game. I feel like I know what I'm doing and put a good squad together in each of these leagues, but a few bad breaks, one or two mistakes and a little bad luck can leave you on the outside looking in come playoff time. Even if you're a fantasy expert.

Let's start with the league where I had the most success:

LEMBO SLAYERS (8-6 record, 3rd place, 2nd in points scored, 1st in points allowed, clinched playoffs)

SEASON RECAP: It's a 10-team league I'm in with a bunch of my co-workers, and I've made the playoffs in each of its three years of existence. With a win last week, I became the only member to clinch the playoffs in all four seasons, and I successfully dethroned two-time defending champ John Lembo, the inspiration for my team's name. As you can see, my record would probably be a lot better if it weren't for all the points scored against me - a whopping 971, almost 300 MORE than the team that finished in first place. But I digress. Bring on the playoffs.

BEST PICKS: When I drafted this team I was a little unsure about taking Chris Johnson with the sixth overall pick. He's been brilliant, probably fantasy's 2009 MVP, and he single-handedly helped me clinch a playoff spot last week. Taking Andre Johnson in the second round and Aaron Rodgers in the third were both tremendous moves. When you hit home runs with your first three picks, there's no reason not to make the playoffs. My choices of Kevin Boss, Ahmad Bradshaw and Devin Hester were also helpful at various points.

BEST PICKUPS: I got the Giants' Steve Smith in late September and the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles in early November, and both are starters for me down the stretch and in the playoffs.

WORST PICKS: I was worried about Roy Williams as my No. 2 WR, and rightfully so. He's been a bust. I expected huge things out of Chris Cooley, but he got hurt and they didn't happen. I wanted more from Kevin Smith. And I thought Matt Cassel would be better - luckily I only had to play him once.

SARASOTA SPARTANS (6-7, 8th place, 6th in points scored, 10th in points allowed, missed playoffs)

SEASON RECAP: As you can see I had incredible luck, getting the fewest points scored against me in the 10-team league. But I just didn't score enough on a weekly basis. We were all jumbled together in the middle of the standings - 5 teams finished 6-7 and missed the playoffs; the two teams went 7-6 and the one that went 6-6-1 made the playoffs.

BEST PICKS: Michael Turner (1st round) and Greg Jennings (3rd) were solid starters, though they didn't quite live up to my expectations. Philip Rivers (4th round) was a good choice at QB. Taking Rashard Mendenhall in the 12th round was good, even though I dropped him and picked him up again later.

BEST PICKUPS: Got Smith (Giants) and Charles again off waivers. Also picked up Heath Miller, Cadillac Williams and Austin Collie and used them to some effectiveness at various points. And I got Ray Rice in a four-player trade (Rice/Steve Breaston for DeSean Jackson/Donald Brown) that worked out pretty well.

WORST PICKS: Marion Barber (2nd round) didn't play like a second-rounder for me. LenDale White (6th round) did nothing for me. Got stuck with Roy Williams again as my No. 2 receiver. And Donald Brown, Ted Ginn and James Davis didn't materialize as breakout players for me, although I was basically taking fliers on them in the very late rounds.

ACE IN THE HOLE (6-7, 7th place, 9th in points scored, T-2nd in points allowed, missed playoffs)

SEASON RECAP: Another frustrating finish as I missed the playoffs by a game and had a ton of points scored against me every week. This is the big-money PPR league in which I share a team with my dad, and we've missed the playoffs the last 3 or 4 years. Injuries to Frank Gore, Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley really hurt us, as it's a pretty deep league and it costs $5 a transaction, so you can't just go dropping and adding guys as you please.

BEST PICKS: Taking the Eagles defense in the 10th round actually helped us out quite a bit. Tony Romo and Eli Manning both had big games from time to time (we just didn't always start the right guy). Same goes for Gore, Anquan Boldin and the Panthers' Steve Smith, although injuries to all those guys killed us throughout the season.

BEST PICKUPS: We thought getting Portis off waivers was a steal earlier in the season, and it did work out for about 1 game before he got hurt. Hakeem Nicks was a nice pickup. Jermichael Finley had a few decent weeks.

WORST PICKUPS: It's all about one man: Matt Forte with the third overall pick. We were completely disgusted with him and his team all year. I'll admit he was a bit of a stretch that high in the draft, especially with Maurice Jones-Drew available. But I never envisioned him being this mediocre. He's had about three fantasy-worthy games this year - against the Lions, Browns and Rams. That's unaccceptable for a first-round pick. He single-handedly sunk us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 15

FIVE STARS (Out of five)

WR DWAYNE BOWE, Chiefs: Surprised? I could see that. But if you haven't been paying attention, Kansas City's budding (only?) star is back from a four-game suspension this week, just in time for a plum matchup with Cleveland. If he's on your waiver wire, help yourself.


RB CHRIS JENNINGS, Browns: A Cleveland back is one of my Hot Pickups for the second straight week. Jerome Harrison was supposed to have a big game last week against the Steelers, but he was sick and ineffective. In stepped Jennings (20 carries, 73 yards), who scored the first TD by a Browns running back this season. Let's consider this a do-over: Give Jennings a shot against the awful Chiefs defense.


RB QUINTON GANTHER, Redskins: The former practice-squadder enjoyed a career day against Oakland (14 carries, 50 yards, 2 TDs; 3 catches, 43 yards). He's easily moved past Rock Cartwright on the Skins' depth chart and faces a reeling Giants defense this week.

RB MAURICE MORRIS, Lions: Mo-Mo hasn't done much of anything all year, but with Kevin Smith shut down, he's in line to get a lot of work against a Cardinals run D that just got punished by Frank Gore.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week 14 recap

- Thanks, Aaron Rodgers, for not throwing ONE STINKING TD PASS in a critical week for fantasy. Ryan Grant (20 carries, 137 yards, 2 TDs) did all the heavy lifting for the Packers against the Bears.

- Peyton Manning, on the other hand, didn't disappoint (4 TDs) and could have been even better if not for 3 INTs.

- Speaking of stepping up, how about that Brandon Marshall? A PPR player's dream: an NFL-record 23 receptions, including 2 TDs, and 200 receiving yards. The surprising part? It was only the second time he's had double-digit receptions all year.

- Give Andre Johnson (193 yards, 2 TDs) a game ball, too.

- And while we're at it, a round of applause for Chris Johnson (186 total yards, 3 TDs), a one-man fantasy wrecking ball all season.

- Pat yourself on the back for drafting/picking up/starting Jamaal Charles (143 rushing yards, TD, 7 catches for 38 yards). And rejoice in next week's date with the Browns.

- Cedric Benson was surprisingly effective against Minnesota's defense (96 yards on 16 carries), and the purported timeshare with Larry Johnson (3 carries, 4 yards) never materialized. Benson is a safe play next Sunday at San Diego.

- Rickey Williams enjoyed his fourth 100-yard rushing game in the past 5 weeks and scored his 11th TD of the year.

- Who is Quinton Ganther? A former practice-squad RB from Utah who scored 2 TDs for Washington, that's who. Expect to see more of him in the coming weeks as the Redskins' RB roulette continues.

- Another 'Skin deserves a look, too: It's TE Fred Davis, who has 4 TDs in his past three games and who next faces the Giants, who had no answer for Philly's Brent Celek (5 catches, 64 yards, TD) this week.

- Speaking of answers, Randy Moss owes each of his fantasy owners one after that "performance" (1 catch, 16 yards, fumble, general disinterest in playing football on Sunday).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 14

- RB BEANIE WELLS at San Francisco: The rookie's had a rough two weeks - he hasn't reached 30 yards on the ground in the past two games - and the Niners own a top-5 rush defense. Beanie's benched this week (but I'm licking my chops over the next two matchups with Detroit and St. Louis).

- WR STEVE BREASTON at San Francisco: I just can't trust him after last week's 1-catch disaster. He's always been worth a look as a flex player when he's hot, but he's ice cold right now.

- WR SANTANA MOSS at Oakland: He hasn't given us much to get excited about this year (only 1 game with more than 75 receiving yards), and he'll likely be blanketed by Pro Bowl corner Nnamdi Asomugha on Sunday. No thanks.


- Not only did Kurt Warner suit up despite recent concussion troubles, but he aired it out for 285 yards and 3 TDs in the Cardinals' surprising thrashing of the previously once-beaten Vikings. Couldn't have been more wrong.

- Brandon Jacobs was bottled up for 39 rushing yards on 13 carries as I expected. Only problem is he ran for a TD and scored another on a 74-yard catch on a screen pass nobody - including the Cowboys defense - expected. Wrong again.

- Willis McGahee vultured another TD to complete a trifecta of wrongness. He also had 4 carries for -4 yards.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 14

- RB JAMAAL CHARLES vs. Buffalo: Did you realize the Bills have allowed opposing running backs to run for 100 yards or score a TD in every game this year? I'm optimistic Charles can do both this week. He's scored in four straight weeks, and the trend should continue.

- RB RYAN GRANT at Chicago: Yeah, RG's last game was disappointing (41 yards on 16 carries), but the Ravens defense is actually still good. Chicago's is living off its reputation from a few years ago and is pretty ghastly nowadays. Grant had 61 yards and a TD against them in Week 1 and should easily duplicate, if not better, those numbers here.

- WR KENNY BRITT vs. St. Louis: The kid from Rutgerse has scored a TD in each of his past three games. Bet he does it again this week against a middle-of-the-road Rams secondary that just lost its best player, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, for the season.


- Alex Smith threw for a season-high 310 yards and two more TDs in a win over the Jaguars.

- Knowshon Moreno racked up 86 yards and, more importantly, scored twice against K.C.

- Pierre Garcon caught 6 passes for a season-high (and career-high) 136 yards. Boo yah.
Photo by The Associated Press

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 14

FOUR STARS (Out of five)

RB JEROME HARRISON, Browns: There was some thought in the preseason that Harrison might supplant Jamal Lewis as Cleveland's feature back, but he started the year hurt and wasn't much of a factor, outside of a 121-yard game in Week 4. That changed when Lewis suffered a serious season-ending concussion and Harrison totaled 97 yards from scrimmage last week and caught two TD passes. Pittsburgh's D doesn't look quite as dangerous anymore, and Harrison's involvement in the passing game is a good sign entering Thursday night's matchup.


FB LEONARD WEAVER, Eagles: It's not often you see a fantasy-relevant fullback, but Weaver is just that, especially since Brian Westbrook's concussion problem started. He's been popping off big plays, whether it was the 41-yard TD run the first time he faced the Giants this year, or a 63-yard catch-and-run in last week's drubbing of Atlanta, and could be worth a shot in the dark as your flex in this week's showdown with the G-Men.

WR DEVIN THOMAS, Redskins: Washington's been waiting for their second-year receiver to break out, and he finally did last week against the Saints (7 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs). Surely Jason Campbell and Co. would like to see a sequel this week against the Raiders.

RB SAMMY MORRIS, Patriots: Just when you thought Laurence Maroney had become the Pats' unquestioned feature back, Morris snuck in with 9 carries (his second-most of the year) for 40 yards and 2 catches for 25 yards. I wouldn't be shocked to see him take a starring role against Carolina this Sunday.


QB BRUCE GRADKOWSKI, Raiders: Am I really advocating starting a Raiders quarterback at such a crucial juncture, against a Redskins D that's actually one of the league's best agaginst the pass? Not quite. But Bruuuuce has actually been productive the past three weeks (6 TDs), and while I don't particularly like him this week or next week on the road against Denver, I love his Week 16 matchup at Cleveland in what is the fantasy Super Bowl for most leagues. Just sayin' ...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 13

- QB KURT WARNER vs. Minnesota: The Cardinals are being cautious with their QB's concussion, and rightfully so. There's no need for them to play him, and even if they do, the Vikings defense could cause him even more headaches. It's not worth the risk, especially if he ends up being a late scratch again this week.

- RB BRANDON JACOBS vs. Dallas: There are a number of reasons not to like him this week - he hasn't topped 80 yards in a game since Week 8, he's scored only 3 times this year, and Dallas held him to 58 yards and no TDs in their first meeting. Plus, in the past, Jacobs has been at his best when he's used in tandem with another back, but second-stringer Ahmad Bradshaw has a bum ankle and third-stringer DJ Ware won't play. You're probably stuck with Jacobs as your No. 2 back regardless, but don't expect too much out of him.

- RB WILLIS McGAHEE at Green Bay: McGahee's had double-digit carries only one time since Week 2, and he's scored only once since Week 4 (although that TD happened to come last week). He's not getting enough reps to warrant a start, especially against the Packers' fourth-ranked rush defense.


- Michael Turner tried to make a go of it Sunday, but he managed just 33 yards on 12 carries before his ankle sprain gave out on him.

- Bernard Berrian made 6 catches for 74 yards but continued his streak of not scoring every other week like I mentioned.

- Austin Collie had 4 catches for 70 yards. Decent.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 13

- QB ALEX SMITH at Seattle: The kid's thrown for 459 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT in his past two games and faces the Seahawks' 25th-ranked passing D. If I'm fed up with my QB (Jay Cutler, Eli Manning ...) Smith is the guy I'm going to.

- RB KNOWSHON MORENO at Kansas City: Denver's rookie RB has topped 80 yards rushing in each of his past three games, and the Chiefs aren't exactly known as great run-stoppers.

- WR PIERRE GARCON vs. Tennessee: Indy's second-year receiver has scored a TD or topped 100 yards in each of his past three games, and the Titans aren't exactly known as great pass-defenders.


- Matt Hasselbeck was a bomb (14-for-25, 102 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) as RB Justin Forsett did all the heavy lifting. My apologies.

- Jason Snelling got only 4 carries for 8 yards as the Falcons decided to go with an ineffective Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood for the majority of the rushing attempts.

- Chris Chambers caught 7 passes for 70 yards and a TD, solidifying his status as the Chiefs' No. 1 receiver.

Hot Pickups: Week 13

FOUR STARS (Out of five)

RB FRED JACKSON, Bills: Freddie started the year off red hot but had been simply mediocre in recent weeks. That changed last Sunday against Miami when Jackson got 15 carries (his most in five weeks, and 12 more than teammate Marshawn Lynch) and scored his first two TDs of the season. I like Jackson on Thursday against the Jets, and I love him the following week at K.C.

WR KENNY BRITT, Titans: Think the rookie is happy with Tennessee's switch to Vince Young at QB? Britt caught his first two NFL TDs in the past two weeks and the best game of his young career on Sunday in Arizona (7 catches, 128 yards, game-winning TD). I like Britt on Sunday against Indy and I love him the following week against St. Louis.


WR JASON AVANT, Eagles: With DeSean Jackson likely to sit this week with a concussion, there could be a bunch of balls headed Avant's way. He'd already seen increased action in recent weeks, including 5 catches for 94 yards last Sunday, and the Falcons' secondary has shown some cracks recently.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week 12 recap

Random thoughts from Week 12 while waking up from a turkey-induced coma ...

- Raise your hand if you got screwed by a quarterback this week. Whether it was a last-minute scratch (Kurt Warner), an early game injury (Matt Ryan) or just plain ineffectiveness, (Eli Manning, Tom Brady) in big games, a bunch of owners saw their Week 12 hopes go down the tubes because of their QB.

- Chris Redman held his own subbing for Ryan (243 yards, 2 TDs) and might not actually a bad play this week against the Eagles with Matty Ice still on the shelf.

- One QB you can't knock: Drew Brees (371 yards, 5 TDs). The guy's making fantasy stars left and right. Even someone named Darnell Dinkins caught a TD pass for the Saints on Monday night. Wasn't he the mayor of New York City?

- Two more TDs from Laurence Maroney, plus a fumble for the third straight game. Don't even dream about sitting him.

- I didn't think I'd be saying it again this year, but Terrell Owens is fantasy relevant. I'm not sure if it was the switch to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB or interim coach Perry Fewell realizing "Hey, maybe we should throw the ball deep to T.O.," but Owens is once again getting it done (96 yards, TD for the second straight game. The only problem is this Thursday he's matched up against Darrelle Revis and the Jets, who bottled Owens up (3 catches, 13 yards) in their Week 6 meeting.

- I also didn't think Larry Johnson would be relevant again, either (22 carries, 107 yards for Cincinnati). Of course, it did come against the Browns, and Bernard Scott didn't do too bad either (18 carries, 87 yards). Plus, there's a decent chance starter Cedric Benson will be back this week against Detroit, so that may be LJ's last big output, at least for this season.

- Big day for budding star Justin Forsett (22 carries, 130 yards, 2 TDs), but it sounds like the second-year back could return to his reserve role with the Seahawks this week if Julius Jones is healthy. It's still a name to know for 2010 and maybe keep on your bench if you have an extra spot.

- Please just go away, Jake Delhomme (14-for-34, 130 yards, 0 TDs, 4 INTs). I know Revis and the Jets secondary had a lot to do with it, but you're making Steve Smith (1 catch, 5 yards) absolutely worthless. I'm looking forward to seeing what Matt Moore can do if Delhomme (finger) sits against Tampa Bay this Sunday as expected.

- Two Chiefs skill players have become no-doubt fantasy starters, but instead of Johnson and Dwayne Bowe it's Jamaal Charles (147 total yards, TD) and Chris Chambers (7 catches, 70 yards, TD).

- I'm not convinced LaDainian Tomlinson is still what he once was (13 carries, 39 yards), but he did score two more TDs on Sunday. As long as the Chargers keep giving him carries inside the 5-yard line, we're all good.